To Wedge or Not to Wedge

First of all, thanks for the nice comments you left on my video yesterday. I always like to think that people are laughing with me, than at me, and trust me- I laugh when I watch that damn video. As for the American Idol comments, I do have a story to tell there. Maybe next week, or the next boring spell, I’ll write about that. Not to raise your expectations that today’s post is anything riveting, but still.

Ever since fall of 2012, Foster has worn wedged shoes on his back end. This was just one of many things that we did at the time to solve a hard-to-diagnose lameness, and since he stopped being lame, we’ve kept them on ever since. While his performance has been great in the wedges, though, my farrier recently pointed out that Foster’s heels were deteriorated a bit by being on plastic for so long, and we needed to make a change.

Foster's wedges

Foster’s wedges (please forgive how dirty his legs are)

Transitioning Foster back into normal steel shoes is fine with me, though I want to spread the process out over two shoeing cycles so the change is less dramatic. Winter time also seems a good time to try it, since our agenda isn’t so full as it is mid season. However, I worried that with the diet changes and chiropractic work Foster is about to get Monday, that introducing another element of change into the mix would make it difficult to tell what’s working and what’s not. So, for the sake of clarity, I’m keeping him in the wedges for another 6 weeks, and we’ll start transitioning back to normal shoes next time around.

All this hemming and hawing seems to me to be part of horse ownership, and pet ownership in general. Making decisions for an animal that can’t speak its mind is tough, and I hate the thought of sacrificing one thing just to improve another. Not that this particular decision is life threatening, just indicative of a greater type of stress we have as guardians of four-legged beasties. Has anyone else had to make a call for the greater good of an animal? What tough decisions have you had to make recently?

10 thoughts on “To Wedge or Not to Wedge

  1. There was a time that O had to go in pads on her front shoes, but my farrier was concerned that after time her soles would thin and become even more sensitive than before. We ended up pulling the pads off, and using alternative ‘comfort’ methods such as a silicone fill to ease her back onto her own feet. It was scary for me to watch her, and there were bad days-but in the long run it was so much better for her.

    • Interesting! I’m glad that O got better in the long run.

      I am definitely expecting a bit of soreness as we make the adjustment, but I do also hope it’s for the better as a permanent solution.

  2. Mine wears a wedge on the front and aluminum eggbars. I’m sure most people would look at it and go “OMG THERE’S SOMETHING TERRIBLY WRONG WITH HIS FEET”. But no… he’s just a crooked legged horse with long pasterns and naturally grows very long in the toe/low in the heel, so we shoe him very proactively. That’s a choice I had to make, and a hard one for me since generally I’m a minimalist. But I think the horses “tell us” what they need and what they don’t need, if we put aside our own ideas long enough to listen. Mine wont stay in that set-up forever but we had some previously very bad shoeings by another farrier to overcome. I honestly believe that unless your horse has had perfect feet and perfect farrier work it’s whole life, they are probably going to be an ongoing work in progress for a long time. Sounds like you’re close to being able to take a step back toward simple with Foster, and I think you’re wise to wait and not make the change while he’s got a lot of other changes happening as well.

    • Thanks for sharing- I definitely think you have a point there about having to read the signs about a situation and doing what fits the needs of the horse. I’m really lucky to have a good farrier and I like that he’s able to make suggestions like this, so I do hope going back to a normal shoe will work in the long term.

  3. good luck figuring it all out – definitely a lot of changes happening all at once! i’m grateful that those types of decisions aren’t really mine to make as a leaser rather than owner…

  4. Pig used to be in full pads + wedges in the front, with big steel shoes all the way around. One of the hardest things to do was rip off his shoes, though I was told to do so by my vet to save wear on his joints. Barefoot was not an easy transition for him, as the years in shoes and pads and minimal turn out had caused his soles to become incredibly thin and weak. At one point, you could push his soles in with your thumb. Like, they would visibly flex under limited finger pressure. It was ridiculous, and scary.

    That ended up leading to almost a year and a half completely devoid of riding while he grew a whole new foot. Now he’s barefoot completely, and only a little footy on rocks. His arthritis is manageable without the extra weight of the shoes dragging on his fetlocks, and his soles stay healthier without the padding. It might have been a tough choice, and rough to get through, but it was certainly the right one for my particular horse.

    Fingers crossed everything works out for Foster!

  5. I Like your plan of waiting a bit to evaluate other changes you’re making. It’s always a tough thing to decide what’s best… But all we can do is make the best decision with the information we have today.

  6. My poor Doberman was walking on three legs earlier this week. She had a normal appetite, no visible thorns or sores. She plays very hard and so I thought maybe she got a little sprain somehow. Long story short, one vet trip and $282 later, we now know that she got stung or bitten by something outside. My husband wanted to wait an extra day before we took her to the vet but I insisted we take her. If we hadn’t she probably would have been fine the next day (or two). Everything would be so much easier if our dogs or horses could just talk to us and tell us what to do!

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